A student from South Shields is learning more about the effects of crime and anti-social behaviour on victims by becoming a volunteer.
Kayley Walker, 31, is taking part in a pilot project led by Sunderland City Council and supported by Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
She is one of three students recruited from two local universities to be trained by community safety partners to become anti-social behaviour victim volunteers.
Kayley, who is studying an MA in social work at Sunderland University, has now successfully completed her volunteer training.
She and her fellow volunteers will complement the work of the local authority’s anti-social behaviour team, by providing practical and friendly support over the phone or in person to low and medium risk victims.
She said: “I have always been passionate about helping those in need and giving back to the community, so volunteering for Sunderland City Council’s anti-social behaviour victims team was the perfect opportunity to do this, while also gaining practical experience for my future career.
“Through the training provided I have enhanced my communication skills and also had the opportunity to shadow various professionals who deal with anti-social behaviour on a daily basis, this opportunity has highlighted that anti-social behaviour can have a huge impact on the victims lives.
“I hope that by volunteering I can be an empathetic ear and help them to get through their experience.”
Kayley is joined by Emma Bontempi, 32, from Sunderland, and Bethany Hellawell, 21, from Whitby.
They completed a comprehensive induction programme in which they shadowed the council’s and are now providing direct support to the victims of low-level anti-social behaviour in person over the telephone and in home visits, helping those affected by crime to assess their individual needs and refer them to the relevant agencies for further, specific help and assistance.
Chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership and deputy council, Coun Harry Trueman, said: “We are absolutely committed to protecting people from harm and supporting victims and witnesses - and this new group of people is another way to help.
“By becoming part of the process to help victims as volunteers, our three academics will be able to draw upon their experiences when they become qualified practitioners and better understand the emotional and social needs of those affected by crime and anti-social behaviour.”